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Old 01-15-2013, 11:32 PM   #1
Scott Jones
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: St. Louis MO USA
Breaking the CREATIVE BLOCK

How to break a creative block:

The more you do something the same way, the harder it is to consider doing it differently...

Much like working out the muscles in your body, your musical mind can become used to your routine, and not respond as effectively as if you change your routine every now and then...

Don't misunderstand...I'm not saying don't practice diligently, your modes over and over for instance...as this produces muscle memory, and solidifies the patterns until they become second nature...

But breaking out of familiar routines WILL increase your creativity...


For instance, if you are use to drilling scales from the 6th string straight across the fretboard to the 1st string...

...then try playing the same scales two notes on the 6th, skip up a position to the 4th and play three notes, over one string play the scale shape filling in the notes chromatically, skip up a position to the 2nd string and two notes...etc...

Buy a book of drum rudiments and use the alternating patterns as picking exercises...


Play your modes, changing the parent scale, every two strings...


Listen to a recording of someone speaking...and emulate the rhythms that fall within the speech patterns that occur...choosing your notes to match the pitches you hear...


Look at your playing through a child's eyes, or ears, as the case may be...

If you were a 5 year-old with no trained musical concept, how would you approach the instrument...how can you tap into the reckless abandon that exists in a child's perception...?


Exaggerate your ideas...

How can you make them bigger?

Simplify your ideas...

How can you streamline them?


Start tapping into the visual aspects of your instrument...

Close your eyes and see the abstract shapes created by the
well-ordered sounds...

Find "triangular" shapes, diamond-like shapes, connect these with "colors" in your mind's eye...


Take simple ideas and make them sound complex...

Take basic triads and string them together with common tones, but not Diatonically...kind of a word free-association game...

Do the same with scales, intervals, etc...


Ask "what if"?

What if your picking hand was a rotating fan?

What if you had only two fingers on your fretting hand?


Challenge the rules...

Play the "wrong" scales over given chords...

What is "right" about it?


Randomize...

Play a series of seemingly unrelated chords...how could you use them intentionally?


Put yourself in the shoes of the great players...

While playing, "hear" your favorite players in your head...how would they approach this solo?


Listen to, and try and emulate other instruments...

Play chords like a piano player...

Play lines like a sax player...

Play rhythms in your chords emulating the hi-hat of the drummer...


Play along with recordings of music far removed from your typical choices...

Throw on a Tibetan Chant and solo over it's basic pedal tone...

Play along with Korean drumming and find some new rhythms...

Native American music from any tribe, and find chords that work with the rhythms and chants...

Recordings of Humpback Whales...emulate their songs with some reverb, delay and a penny...

Any animal calls are great fun to emulate...Belew has made a career out of it...

Improvise with film scores...


Substitute...

Assign words to chords and chord types...so that any time you come to words beginning with "s", you know to play a diminished chord...

Any time you come to words beginning with "f", you play a Maj7#5...

Then choose a novel, and flip from page to page, writing down the first word on each page...when you've accumulated a few sentences, see if you can keep up with your challenge...


There are no tricks, but in the end, you must be on top of your own human nature and discipline yourself to overcome stagnation, and look for any conceivable way to keep your playing fresh...

See yourself as an creative expressionist...a being whose sole purpose is to create...NOT a guitarist...and in that, you may find your way out of the "box"...

Hope this helps,

Scott
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:18 PM   #2
CarsonStevens
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Location: San Jose, CA
One thing that's really been helping me lately is to just stop throwing out stuff that I initially think is "bad". Like I'll come up with a riff and think "wow, that's terrible/not complex enough/etc." and then toss it. An hour later and I'm still sitting there with nothing to show for it because I couldn't think of anything better than the one I could have been tinkering with and refining.

So I've just started keeping everything, and basically not second-guessing any of my ideas. It's led to a far more productive time, and I've recorded a fair amount of music over the last six months, compared to how it used to take me a year to take a composition from idea to finished track.
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